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      01.08.2009 00:16
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      A good first approch to hifi but if you can pay a bit more look elsewhere

      I bought this amplifier a couple of years ago to use in a second system at my girlfriend's house. After much reading on the internet the oppinions were mixed but I was looking for rock-bottom cheap but still decent sound. Picked this one up on ebay for £30 because it had a dodgy input selectro button. They still retail for about £100-130 though.

      First impressions were that it felt light for the size and, taking a look at the inside through the venting holes confirmed that it contained a simple power suply and a simple circuit board that's suuposed to do all the magic. A bit sceptical here...

      They were coupled to a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 that are not the easyest to drive at only 86 dB and the amplifier boasts a mere 40 watt per channel. Well, how fooled could I have been! The amplifier actually performed pretty well, but a side by side comparison with a more "mature" marantz relative evidenced its weaknesses: The sound was a bit muffled on the mid range, the bass was not so punchy and the highs were also not so clear. Of course, when the next best thing you own is a pair of creative computer speakers you're still in for a big improvement and will wonder how the hech you could have listened to such a bad sound quality. That is, until you put something better alongside.

      One major drawback is that it has no remote, so every time you want to change the volume or input you have to go and turn a knob. You get to exercise, though!

      The front looks like it is made of brushed aluminum but it is actually plastic. Nevertheless it is an elegant machine with its large volume control knob and assymetrical disposition of the other ones. You have the nice option of using source direct mode, meaning that you bypass all the equalizer functions and get your sound as pure as it comes from the input device. You have the option of using two pairs of speakers that can be selected individually. These are attached through quite flimsy binding posts. There is a nice selection of inputs and there is even a phono stage input for vinyl disc player.

      All in all it is a very simple machine that does what is advertised and a good choice for a first approach to the hifi world. However, if you can afford to pay a bit more, go to others like NAD, Denon or Marantz. They all make supperb budget amplifiers.

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